The Ultimate Computer thoughts

Discussion in 'Star Trek - The Original & Animated Series' started by somebuddyX, May 11, 2022.

  1. somebuddyX

    somebuddyX Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    I watched "The Ultimate Computer" the other week and really enjoyed it. My thought keeps going back to why install that thing on the ship in the first place. It feels like shoving a square apple into a round orange or however that analogy goes. It seems like the wrong place to use an AI, for taking roles away from Starfleet people, when risk is part of the job. But I feel like there could have been a use in Starfleet for such a device. Why not build a new ship with that thing already built in and test it some more. And with that I keep thinking that there could be an interesting "sequel" story (or some other story along the same lines) about building a Starfleet drone ship with an intelligent AI or something installed. I keep thinking of something along the lines of Harold Finch designing the Machine on "Person of Interest" or HAL interacting with Dr. Chandra in "2010: The Year We Make Contact" where you have AI that aren't intentionally nefarious, and having Kirk involved with the testing of the AI drone ship. Has anything like this been done in Star Trek?
     
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  2. Forbin

    Forbin Admiral Admiral

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    I think a plot inconsistency in the story was that, although they harped on M5 being able to run the ship with no people aboard, M5 still needed landing party personnel for exploration and first contact missions.

    Also:
    [​IMG]

    :)
     
  3. Henoch

    Henoch Rear Admiral Premium Member

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    First, the M5 AI drone ship would lock you out of its control circuits, then go on a rampage to sterilize the planet Earth of its infectious Humans. Seen that episode.
     
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  4. Doug Otte

    Doug Otte Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    It seems to be a 1960s misunderstanding of AIs and computers on behalf of the writers. These ignorant plots continue, even now, with ridiculous events like Soong's daughter magically erasing all of his files remotely in Picard. I guess he had a state-of-the-art lab with no remote backups?

    Anyway, the appeal to me of this episode is really how it causes Kirk to re-evaluate his role. He initially doubts his own worth, but then comes out with his confidence strengthened at the end.
     
  5. Ssosmcin

    Ssosmcin Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    The 60's were an era where factories were switching to automation and people were losing or fearing losing their jobs to machines (it still happens - self service gas stations and self checkout supermarkes). Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea did not one but two episodes around this concept. Daystrom seemed to think M5 type computers could totally replace people on spaceships, but both Kirk and Spock talked about simply replacing command personnel. The story was really more about human in these positions were more important than automation.

    I love this one, but I felt the reaction by Wesley and Starfleet was over the top. Wesley jumped to the conclusion that Kirk lost his mind out of nowhere and never once stopped to think that MAYBE the M5 was responsible. Doohan's voiceover as the Starfleet guy was ridiculously overdramatic.

    STARFLEET [OC]: You are authorized to use all measures available to destroyyyyy the Enterprise. Acknowledge, Lexington.

    Then, Wesley makes a similar leap when Kirk cuts power and decides not to fire when they admitted it was a trap M5 would have set. Bob Wesley was actually poorly thought out.

    Other than that, it's one of my favorite episodes of that part of the season.
     
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  6. Phaser Two

    Phaser Two Commodore Premium Member

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    I love this episode. It's an excellent one to get a Star Trek rookie started on the series or the franchise. There's a lot of the Enterprise, quite a bit of character development, good acting by Shatner, Nimoy, Kelley and Doohan, the full "classic" bridge crew is present, and the dialogue is superb. What's more, it's free of potentially off-putting (and mostly overblown) tropes like Kirk in Love, "overacting" by Shatner, etc.
     
  7. shapeshifter

    shapeshifter Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    Someone thought an episode that explains why, in an age of such powerful computing abilities, so many crew-people would be necessary to run a starship. A kind of John Henry, man vs machine tale was hatched.

    There was a kind of sequel too: the "automation center" in ST3.
     
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  8. Joanna McCoy-Kirk

    Joanna McCoy-Kirk Commodore Commodore

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    I think this was the last great episode of TOS. Also, as a sort of gallows humor, I use variations on "M5" as an online alias in various places on the internet, but oddly enough, not here.:shrug:
     
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  9. Warped9

    Warped9 Admiral Admiral

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    I suspect that if trials of M5 had been totally successful the next step could well have practical application—a ship designed from scratch to maximize M5’s capabilities.

    But the M5 (in today’s light) really isn’t much more than what is being considered now—launching a spacecraft, or probe, to a great distance that can operate totally independent of human control. Before we send people we might well send fully autonomous spacecraft to the furtherest reaches of the solar system and maybe even the nearest stars. Such vehicles could not possibly be remotely controlled from Earth.

    Or Starfleet could adapt aspects of M5 while bypassing others. Seeing how ships evolved as the franchise evolved this seems the course Starfleet likely took.
     
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  10. Qonundrum

    Qonundrum Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

    AI didn't exist back then - even Windows NT, OS/2, and other computer OSes from the 80s/90s had task managers controlling preemptive multitasking to prevent an errant program from hanging the entire system* that would, if applied in Star Trek Land except this didn't exist as such in 1968 and they didn't hire IBM mainframe technicians, prevent a lot of their computer problems from happening in the first place - ask Redjak about that, spazzing over a piece of Pi when the process monitor would see a recursive loop halt it, with Redjack then giggling and taking over (and don't ask how it can fiddle with electronic circuitry the same way it can fiddle with biological chemical interactions, holy dopamine batman!)... and "AI" is more a marketing term of recent, which has more to do with event-driven function programming as opposed to actual creative thought, which is something you probably would not want. V'GER knows more about that, anyway, and even then...

    * OS/2's system input queue debacle aside, but this is becoming too big a tangent

    A lot of shows in the 60s and 70s, especially sitcoms, camped up the "computers gone wild" trope in very silly, over the top, campy ways.

    At least TNG had some Unix experts, I'm going to bypass the encyclopedic volumes' worth of schlocky "Picard" magic fluff for now. That stuff makes the excesses of the 60s seem utterly demure by comparison at times...
     
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  11. Forbin

    Forbin Admiral Admiral

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    Seems to me there was a movie in the70s that explored the "computer becomes intelligent and threatens to take over the world" story concept. What was the name of that film again?
    [​IMG]
    -- Forbin
    ;)
     
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  12. blssdwlf

    blssdwlf Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    I thought they addressed this with Kirk asking Spock to use the "compulsory scan unit" to force the pi calculation. The name would suggest that in TOS there exists either a software or hardware unit that can force the ship's computer to do something even though under normal circumstances it's process monitor would've halted it.
     
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  13. CorporalCaptain

    CorporalCaptain Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    Exactly. The dialog implied that this was a special type of directive, a "compulsory directive," that was not subject to normal control signals.
     
  14. Bornin1980something

    Bornin1980something Commander Red Shirt

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    So how did they stop once the entity was exorcised?
     
  15. blssdwlf

    blssdwlf Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    SPOCK: The computer banks will work on this problem to the exclusion of all else until we order it to stop.
     
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  16. Qonundrum

    Qonundrum Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

    D'oh! I forgot about that line - great catch, thanks!


    And presumably Life Support systems aren't computer-controlled.
     
  17. blssdwlf

    blssdwlf Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    Funny you mentioned it but they are computer-controlled and they were being affected. Spock? I think got it manually working but it was only a temp fix that led to the compulsory directive being used.
     
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  18. CorporalCaptain

    CorporalCaptain Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    Yes, exactly [http://www.chakoteya.net/StarTrek/36.htm]:

    (Kirk crouches down by Spock under the life-support station.)
    KIRK: Spock.
    SPOCK: Normal environmental levels have been restored, Captain, but it will not last long. A few hours at best.
    KIRK: That should be enough time. Let's get at it.​
     
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  19. publiusr

    publiusr Vice Admiral Admiral

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    I had nothing but sympathy for Daystrom…one of the few times I felt at odds with Kirk. He was in the right…but I wonder why he didn’t just have Daystrom tell M-5 this was another drill.
     
  20. blssdwlf

    blssdwlf Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    Maybe that was implied but perhaps Kirk assumed M-5 would listen to Daystrom. They didn't anticipate Daystrom having a breakdown.
    KIRK: You can save the M-5 if you talk to it and make it stop the attack.